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How To Form an LLC in Virginia: The Most Effective Way for 2024

Caitlin Greyling Caitlin GreylingFinance Specialist July 17, 2024
July 17, 2024
If you’re aiming to turn your entrepreneurial ambitions into reality in Virginia, launching a Limited Liability Company (LLC) might be the optimal path to kickstart your venture. Forming an LLC offers significant benefits, such as enhanced credibility, tax flexibility, and the separation of personal and business assets.

Moreover, LLCs in Virginia enjoy low annual fees and a clear-cut registration process. The state also offers the option to form a Protected Series LLC if your business has multiple revenue channels or teams. This allows you to separate your business assets from one another into different subdivisions, each protected from the liabilities of the others.

However, it’s important to understand that establishing an LLC isn’t a walk in the park. The process involves several critical steps, all of which require a deep understanding of Virginia’s business regulations. These range from submitting the necessary documents to adhering to ongoing reporting demands. Missteps in compliance could lead to severe legal and financial consequences that could affect your business.

The task is undoubtedly complex and demands thorough precision, but don’t worry – we’ve prepared an easy-to-follow guide to help you navigate through it.

Short on Time? Here’s a Brief Guide on How To Form an LLC in Any US State:

Outlined below are the essential steps to form an LLC across any state in the US. Keep in mind that these steps are general, and we’ve detailed more specific requirements and regulations for Virginia in our comprehensive guide below. It’s crucial to always seek advice from a legal professional, contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission, or consult one of our top LLC formation services for precise and current information.

  1. Register a business name that’s unique and complies with your state’s regulations.
  2. Appoint a Registered Agent who will manage legal notices and official communications for your LLC. This could be you, a partner, an employee, or a professional service like ZenBusiness1.
  3. File your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State in your state, specifying details like your LLC’s name, address, and Registered Agent’s information.
  4. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS and register for any necessary state and local taxes.

Starting an LLC in Virginia: A Complete Guide

Before diving in, keep these key points in mind:
  • Your LLC’s name cannot suggest it is anything other than an LLC. Avoid terms like “corporation,” “incorporated,” or similar in the name. The use of words such as “university,” “bank,” or “attorney” is also restricted.
  • You should file for Professional LLC formation (different from general LLC) if you provide legal, accounting, architectural, design, engineering, and medical services.
  • Depending on your business type, additional business permits and licenses may be necessary.

1. Decide on a business name for your LLC

Pick a name that reflects your business identity and adheres to Virginia’s naming conventions. The name should be distinctive, not closely resemble any existing business, and must include an LLC identifier like “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.” Check the availability of your chosen name through a search on the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.

Consider also securing a domain name for your business website at the same time. LLC formation service providers like Tailor Brands1 offer plans with website development and a free custom domain for one year.

2. Select a Registered Agent

Your Registered Agent will handle legal notices and government communications, such as lawsuits and summons, on behalf of your LLC. As such, the Registered Agent must have a Registered Office Address, which is a physical address in Virginia. The Registered Agent can be another LLC member, a trusted friend, yourself, or a professional Registered Agent service.

Take note that you can’t use a virtual office, mail drop, or commercial mail receiving agency as a Registered Office. The state only accepts P.O. boxes if the town or city has a population below 2,000. So if you don’t want to act as a Registered Agent and use your address for LLC formation filing, consider hiring a Registered Agent service like ZenBusiness.

3. File your Articles of Organization

You must file this crucial document with Virginia’s State Corporation Commission to officially form your LLC. The associated filing fee is $100, and the document must include:
  • Your LLC’s name
  • LLC’s principal office address
  • Your Registered Agent’s details and qualification
  • Registered Office
  • The name(s) and signature(s) of the organizer(s)

4. Draw up an LLC Operating Agreement

While optional in Virginia, drafting an Operating Agreement is recommended as it can prevent internal disputes later on and clarify business operations. It details the LLC’s ownership, management structure, and operating procedures, including:
  • Ownership percentages of members
  • Their voting privileges and responsibilities
  • The allocation of loss and profit
  • The LLC’s management type (member- or manager-managed, etc.)
  • The method for changing membership

5. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is a nine-digit number given to entities by the IRS that will identify your LLC for tax purposes. Getting one is not mandatory, but an EIN is necessary for tax filings, hiring employees, and opening a business bank account.

For single-member LLCs without employees, your SSN might suffice for tax purposes, but an EIN is recommended to maintain your liability protection.

6. Register for state and local taxes

Your LLC may need to register for various taxes in Virginia based on your activities and location, including:
  • Income tax return
  • Sales and use tax
  • Payroll tax
  • Withholding tax
  • Unemployment insurance tax
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Litter tax
For detailed registration requirements, consult the Virginia State Corporation Commission or an accredited LLC formation service.

7. Get any necessary licenses and permits

Depending on your industry and location, your LLC might need to acquire specific licenses or permits, such as:
  • Professional or occupational licenses
  • Alcohol licenses
  • Manufacturing permits
  • Environmental permits
  • Health and safety permits
Check with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR), or an LLC formation service to find out the necessary licenses and permits for your LLC.

8. Maintain your compliance

You will need to remain compliant with your taxes and filing requirements throughout the operation of your business. To keep your LLC in good standing in Virginia, ensure you:
  • File an Annual Report by the end of your formation anniversary month every year with the State Corporation Commission. This costs $50.
  • Maintain an available and qualified Registered Agent throughout the year. Failure to do so and receive any important legal or regulatory correspondences can result in fines and other penalties.
  • Meet all state and federal tax obligations on time by registering for, filing, and paying your taxes before deadlines.
  • Renew all necessary licenses and permits, as required. Failure to do so can result in fines and other legal troubles.
Proper maintenance of these aspects ensures your LLC remains compliant and protects its limited liability status. For ease, consider using one of the reputable LLC formation services we’ve evaluated. Some also offer tools to help you remain compliant, such as ZenBusiness’ Worry-Free Compliance service and Money Pro accounting software.

Explore the Best LLC Formation Services for Virginia

When selecting the best LLC formation services, we prioritized those that offer:
  • Free plans (excluding state fees) that offer significant savings.
  • Comprehensive, feature-rich plans that provide excellent value.
  • Unique offerings that stand out from the competition, like creative services or financial tools.
  • User-friendly interfaces and robust customer support for hassle-free navigation and assistance.
  • Customizable plans to cater to diverse business needs.
Below are our top picks for LLC formation services tailored to Virginia businesses.

ZenBusiness homepage with preferred business name text field to get started
ZenBusiness provides LLC formation services starting at $0 (state fees not included)
Whether you’re launching a side gig or a grand enterprise, ZenBusiness provides you with a reliable LLC formation service. It has a wide range of customizable plans (from free to premium) to fit any budget, and each includes several valuable extras. Plus, you can add various helpful services, software subscriptions, and tools as needed.

With ZenBusiness’ free plan1, you only pay for mandatory state filing fees. If you want a faster service, ZenBusiness’ Pro and Premium plans promise 1–2 day filing times. Best of all, every plan comes with a 100% Accuracy Guarantee, so you know ZenBusiness will nail the details every time.

On top of that, ZenBusiness throws in a free year of Worry-Free Compliance and ZenBusiness Money Essential, a free tool for effortless expense and tax tracking. If you want to go the extra mile, you can upgrade to ZenBusiness Money Pro, a comprehensive tool for managing your accounts. And if you’re unsure, you can try it out first through its free 30-day trial.

Features

  • Free tax consultation. By signing up with ZenBusiness, you’ll receive a complimentary 30-minute tax consultation with 1-800Accountant.
  • Smartphone app. You can manage your account seamlessly via ZenBusiness’ Android or iOS mobile app, in addition to having desktop access.
  • In-house website builder. With ZenBusiness’ Premium plan, you gain access to its website builder (also available as a separate subscription), as well getting a free domain name and email address.
  • Fully customizable free package. You can tailor ZenBusiness’ free plan to your needs with a range of paid add-ons, ensuring you don’t pay for unnecessary extras.
Free plan (plus state fees)?
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 1–2 days
Customer support Live chat, email, phone, online resources

2. Tailor Brands: Create an LLC, Brand, and Online Presence1

Tailor Brands homepage, with business name text field to get started
Tailor Brands streamlines your startup experience, ensuring a quick and effortless setup
Tailor Brands stands out because of its extensive array of visual design and marketing tools and add-ons. Yes, it offers you much more than just basic LLC formation. Think graphic design, an AI-driven logo maker, merchandise, website design, branding, and business cards.

Here’s another cool perk: Tailor Brands offers a free business plan generator. Just share a little about you and your venture, and Tailor Brands will create a checklist1 to guide you from your current stage to a fully online presence. While it will nudge you toward paid plans and services, it’s an excellent starting point – especially if you’re transitioning from brainstorming to actual business-building.

Features

  • Free logo maker. Tailor Brands offers the use of its AI logo maker with every plan, with enhanced features available in the Elite plan.
  • Zazzle merch partnership. You can kickstart your LLC formation with exclusive deals on printed merchandise from Zazzle.
  • In-house website design. Tailor Brands provides custom website design services for an additional fee to boost your business’s visibility.
  • Trademark support. Tailor Brands also offers support with trademark applications on request, but only as an add-on.
Free plan (plus state fees)?
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 2 days
Customer support Chatbot, email, phone, online resources

3. Swyft Filings: The All-In-One LLC Service for Small Business Owners1

Swyft Filings homepage, allowing users to choose entity type and state of formation to get started
Swyft Filings simplifies the process for both newcomers and experienced entrepreneurs
If you’re just stepping into the business world and want a straightforward start, consider Swyft Filings. With Swyft Filings’ LLC filing plans1, you’ll tackle minimal paperwork, making them perfect if you’re a new business owner. It’s a breeze to sign up, with most of your business essentials included in both free and paid Swyft Filings plans.

And once you’ve filed your LLC, Swyft Filings doesn’t just set you up and wave goodbye. It offers a variety of add-ons and subscriptions, as well as a free 14-day trial of ComplianceGuard with every plan. This tool ensures you stay on top of state business compliance, sending you annual reports, meeting minutes, and timely filing reminders. Trust Swyft Filings to stick with you – from your first steps to successfully in-business status.

Features

  • EIN application. The Standard and Premium plans from Swyft Filings include your EIN application at no extra cost.
  • Business licenses and permits. Swyft Filings provides research and application services for licenses and permits, which is available for an additional fee.
  • Document library. Access to templates for documents such as Operating Agreements and banking resolutions comes with the Standard and Premium plans.
  • Free Basic plan. Swyft Filings offers a no-frills basic plan that covers all your essential needs.
Free plan?
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time Same day
Customer support Chat, phone, email, online resources

Start Your Virginia LLC Stress-Free and Quickly

Starting an LLC can mark the beginning of an exciting venture, but the process can also be complex. Luckily, our top three featured LLC formation services are on hand to make setting up your business simpler.

Regardless of the scale of your LLC venture, ZenBusiness offers plans tailored to your needs1, packing significant value, including a comprehensive free option not matched by competitors.

For those prioritizing brand development, consider Tailor Brands1, known for its expansive creative and marketing solutions.

If you’re starting out and seek detailed guidance, Swyft Filings is your go-to1 for its user-friendly sign-up and client management system.

Here’s an overview of our top LLC formation service picks for Virginia:

Standout feature Bonus feature #1 Bonus feature #2 Starting price
ZenBusiness Value-packed free plan and paid packages 100% Accuracy Guarantee Free year of Worry-Free Compliance $0
Tailor Brands Branding and marketing tools Free AI logo maker Business “launch plan” generator $0
Swyft Filings Excellent client dashboard ComplianceGuard free trial State and local permit research and filing service $0

FAQ

What are the steps for starting an LLC in Virginia?

To launch your LLC in Virginia, you’ll need to adhere to the guidelines set by the Virginia State Corporation Commission, including selecting a unique business name, filing your Articles of Organization, and paying the applicable state filing fees. You can handle these steps independently or utilize an LLC formation service to ensure accuracy.

What are the pros of forming an LLC in Virginia?

Forming an LLC in Virginia helps protect your personal assets from your business liabilities and offers flexibility in management. Virginia is known for its low annual fees and straightforward LLC registration process.

Can I form an LLC in Virginia for free?

Not entirely. While you can avoid paying a lawyer or accountant by filing your LLC online through the State Corporation Commission’s Clerk’s Information System (CIS), you will still need to pay the state filing fees. Take note that when filing the necessary paperwork online, you need to make sure that your papers are error-free to avoid delays or rejection of your application. An LLC formation service like ZenBusiness can provide accuracy and valuable support, starting with a free basic plan and optional paid services for expanded needs.

Which LLC formation service offers Registered Agent services?

Most LLC services offer Registered Agent services on the side, relieving you of the need to be available for business communications during business hours. In fact, all three of our recommended providers can serve as your Registered Agent in any US state, though this comes with an extra annual charge. If you’re available during business hours, acting as your own Registered Agent could be more economical and is entirely legal.

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